This one was a pleasure. Please read.
-D. M. Collins
This one was a pleasure. Please read.
-D. M. Collins
So, yesterday was A Rrose in a Prose, which was amazing and had wonderful performances by Ian MacKinnon, Drew Denny, Tom Neely, Flannery Lunsford, Justin Maurer, and myself.
But our guest of honor, Allison Anders, couldn’t be there–she had the sniffles and was a little under the weather.
I thought it would be fun to have the audience write her a get well letter, but not a conventional one–rather, we’d write it as an Exquisite Corpse, the dadaist game that if you don’t know by now, you must have had no fun in high school. Basically, you take a poem or story or drawing, one person starts it off, and the next person does the next little bit only getting to see where the connection is but not what the piece as a whole might be, not until it’s finished.
We opted for the prosaic Exquisite Corpse, where one person writes five lines, paragraph-style, and then passes it along to the next person, who only sees the fifth line and has to try and continue the thought. And it started off great, much like a get-well letter should be! But then very very quickly it descended into a place of madness, of darkness, sex, and depravity, so that I’m worried it will be like a Groundhog’s Day of health and scare Allison back into sickville! Truth be told, I think some of the people didn’t listen to my full instructions and thought they were writing a poem, not a get-well letter, which explains all the blood and cum. I still haven’t decided if I’m going to actually show this to Allison. Maybe she’ll stumble across it after she’s feeling a little better.
Here is the final piece we came up with. For the sake of clarity, I’m titling it:
SODA AND THE WOMB
My name is Mallison. I know, weird right? I’ve known many women named Allison (or Alison), and our relationships have been passionate and tempestuous. I hope my baby doesn’t wake up. Is that a non-sequitur? Perhaps, but I’m just being honest here.
We’re sitting here, relaxing, enjoying our coffee, and it’s the foremost thing on my mind. XXX. I want you to feel good! You have shared so much joy, inspired such creation. I’m closing my eyes & sending love and picturing you naked.
In the bathtub
and sending a fax to the
A nice medium for virtual sex
will get you better
in body and soul
electric spirit electric sex
Crazy girls make the best nest
Salami bitch and brazen whore
Trickster meets a lackluster boar
La la la baking with flour
Staring down the craven hour
You can see things coming into focus, sharp, clear, bright—then fluffy, cottony, floaty again, but this time it’s totally fun.
And the demons will be on the run. So many hearts need to be won! The world catches up to you. True blue indigo womb.
You fascinate the fascination of my body up against yours. Smashed in blood mixed with sweat.
I reach for you
drawing you in
licking the blood off your stomach
I CHOKE ON YOUR DAD’S CUM
and all your mother’s insecurities
-Ryan Fuller, Drew Denny, Flannery Lunsford, Charles Mallison, Greg Saunders, et al.
The good news is, we’ve added Drew Denny to the bill! You may remember Drew from such media as print, film, and the fine art world–she’s exhibited ecology-minded art environments in multiple continents, has been an editor and frequent contributor to L.A. RECORD, and has recently been going around promoting her very amazing independent film, The Most Fun I Ever Had With My Pants On, which she wrote, directed, and starred in. Oh, and somehow she’s also in the band Bon Bon.
The bad news is, due to health concerns, Allison Anders will not be joining us. We should compose an Exquisite Corpse poem for her to help her feel better! As long as things go well, and they seem to be doing so, she’ll likely be on her feet for next month, or in the months to come. Luckily, we do have a representative from her camp, as Flannery Lunsford, the star of her film Strutter, will be reading with us.
It’s at the Hedgehog in Echo Park, 2201 W. Sunset Blvd, at 3 p.m. See you there!
P.S. More info at the Facebook invite HERE.
So, I watch The Walking Dead every week. I know it’s a guilty pleasure, but not every show can be Mad Men. And hey, I’m an ADD-crazed fool constantly drawn to distraction material, which explains how I’ve sat through every season of Sons of Anarchy, Breaking Bad, Dexter, and Battlestar Galactica that can be viewed on Netflix. And I wish I was talking about the 70s Battlestar, but I’m not—I’m talking about Dean Stockwell as a cyborg who fucked his own mother, herself a cyborg with amnesia played by Nan Vernon’s sister who thought she was a human and was saving her husband’s life (okay, the new series is not without its charms) … meanwhile years are going by, and I’ve yet to publish my first book.
Anyway, I’ve been in Austin for SXSW for the past ten days or so, and I just got back to L.A., and tonight I was catching up with my Walking Dead episodes. During a commercial break in the most recent one, there was a brief promo for the Talking Dead panel show, hosted by Chris Hardwick, that follows each new episode of The Walking Dead. In the blurb, Hardwick casually mentioned that one of his guests tonight was Voxhaul Broadcast, and they would be performing their song from the Walking Dead soundtrack.
“Voxhaul Broadcast?” I thought. Voxhaul Broadcast … Voxhaul Broadcast… hmm, why do I know the name Voxhaul Broadcast?
Oh, that’s right…
Yep, Voxhaul Broadcast, the band on Talking Dead last Sunday, once called me a “tard” and told me to suck their dicks.
To explain why an indie rock band with a name like “Voxhaul Broadcast” would feel justified in attacking me with poor grammar and vaguely homophobic insults, let’s rewind back to 2008. At the time I was freelance writing for Losanjealous.com, a fairly strong competitor of LAist. My first assignment was to review an Earlimart show. Voxhaul Broadcast was also on the bill, and while I devoted very few words to them (because it was a review about Earlimart), I did manage to say that Voxhaul Broadcast “kept serving up tunes like indie iceberg lettuce, with no flavor to distinguish one from the next.”
And that was it. Admittedly, I was critical of the band. But as anyone who has read my work knows, I am very skeptical of any music that sounds “indie” as a genre unto itself. You know what I’m talking about: music that has Chris Martin-esque falsetto male vocals, or that has guitar seemingly ripped from U2 via a flavorless Blonde Redhead, paired with a bassist who just plays “dum-dum-dum-dum-dum-dum-dum-dum” quarter-notes all damn song along the chords’ roots. I’m talking about pleasant rock music that won’t interrupt your conversation, with a live drummer who plays muted disco beats even though the music isn’t meant to be danced to, except maybe on the grass of some indie-rock festival while you’re shirtless and wearing a crown of glow sticks. I’m talking about music that takes rock’s gleefully ugly 13-year-old unconscious id, pretends it’s a well-thought-out romantic strategy, and champions it with soaring anthems, not as an anti-hero in a leather jacket, but as a beautiful stoic angel whose every vague dig against the establishment is to be taken as a poignant critique on society.
And I think that’s what struck such a chord with the Voxhaul Broadcast guys. It wasn’t that I said I couldn’t remember their songs, but that I said they were “indie.”
Voxhaul Broadcast didn’t want to be an indie rock band, or so they claimed at the time. Their MySpace page listed their influences as James Brown, Al Green, and Donovan; they wanted to be a soul band with heart. But having a record (or more likely, an MP3) in your collection doesn’t mean your band follows in that tradition. Though they conned a few other blogs into quoting their press release verbatim, the concept that this band was a “soul” band or even soul-infused was just sheer fantasy: I’d challenge them or anyone to show me what part of those rhythms, guitar licks, or lyrics sounds sounded even remotely like “Funky President” or “Love and Happiness,” much less “Catch the Wind” or “Sunshine Superman.” Any claims to soul you might actually locate in Voxhaul Broadcast’s music were (when they remembered to include them) straight from Vampire Weekend, or the Strokes, or any of the other of the umpteen mostly-male bands with guitarists who play on the upstroke with their distortion turned off. It’s not even funky—it’s just that singer David Dennis’ voice has a little more growl than Thom Yorke, and sometimes their songs are a little more lively than Death Cab for Cutie.
And that’s why I compared them to iceberg lettuce and then quickly moved on, with no intention of fucking with their shit. But these guys went completely ballistic, posting comments on Losanjealous about me and then going on this website to accuse me of lying and taking their quotes “out of context,” as though there’s any way to take “suck my dick” out of context. Or that it was somehow “false reporting” to critique them as a talentless drivel band trying desperately to jump the train headed for Sell Out Station.
Anyway, I guess this blog’s Voxhaul Broadcast article stayed in the top of Google’s search for a while, because I kept seeing comments on the thread way after I’d moved on with my own life. Finally, after maybe a couple years, the comments stopped and I put Voxhaul Broadcast’s boorish insults and bland music out of mind. In hindsight, I think I heard about them from time to time appearing on bills with much better bands, e.g. on shows that L.A. RECORD would list. But I hadn’t seen Voxhaul Broadcast live since, and I was surprised to hear their name on Talking Dead.
Funny thing is, though, that Voxhaul Broadcast’s story arc has proven them to be the indie-ist of indie sellouts, exactly as I’d described back in 2008. They did continue to play not-soul music. They did try and succeed in embracing Nic Harcourt, and they did scam their way onto the soundtracks of terribly treacle-y films, e.g. The Vow and the Nicolas Sparks vehicle The Lucky One, and the slightly more fun 90210 (what, not good enough for Gossip Girl?). Funny, their website doesn’t really mention their ties to such wonderful, soulful cinematography. Some bands would find a bunch of humor in getting a gig on movies they don’t particularly like, but you get the vibe that Voxhaul Broadcast are worried too much about their image to boast about their appearances, and too worried about pissing off potential date-film directors by openly mocking them.
That said, performing a song on The Walking Dead is something of a coup for these fellas, and honestly, I was watching hoping that it would be good. A lot of bands start off being kind of generic and grow into a wonderful sound of their own, and maturity can improve lyric writing a great deal. I have critiqued a lot of bands who either took my words to heart and changed, or completely dissed me by making the most awesome album ever, gleefully proving me irrelevant through sheer talent, and I’m okay with being wrong if I get some good music out of it. Some bands even became my friends after I criticized them in print, because really, until you start going to my blog and calling me a “tard” liar, I don’t hate you and you don’t hate me—it’s nothing personal, just a critique of music that also at times steps out of your personality and says things you wouldn’t say to someone’s face in polite society.
But change and maturity were not to be had: this performance by Voxhaul Broadcast of “In the Wilderness” is somehow even worse than the weird nu metal Ray Charles blues of Jamie N. Commons from the week before. “In the Wilderness” has just a few strummed acoustic chords, plus a slight little flourish that would almost be good if it wasn’t lifted piecemeal from Kirk Hammett.
And the lyrics—oh man, the very first thing ol’ David sings is that he “Stood at the edge of the valley/looked at the ground below.” He knows that valleys are the low part and that the mountains are the high part, right? It’s hard to see much below you in a valley.
Watch the clip, and listen to the lyrics of this thing, if you can stomach them. He goes on to talk about how there’s a “wolf inside my heart” for some girl, which would be hard to fit in there since she’s already “the wilderness inside me” that may or may not have fueled a fire that “cold desperation” may or may not have let go out—it was a jumble of mixed metaphors, the kind Holland-Dozier-Holland would never have strung together. I haven’t even gotten to the earthquake or how he can’t run forever because he’s hungry and he eats weird metaphorical animals. And if all this talk of “hunger” or “wolves” is making you think it’s a Duran Duran song, well, even a third-bit copy of Duran Duran would at least provide the faint glimmer of nostalgia to get you through.
Look, guys, Voxhaul Broadcast, you were jerks to me once, pretty big jerks, to a little guy who only wanted to write articles about music (most of which you’ve never heard of, but that’s okay). Being a masochist, I would have loved to see you kick my ass a little. But sad to say, in the past five years you haven’t done anything to prove you’re not still talentless, unimaginative hacks barely hanging onto your Nicolas Sparks soundtrack gigs because you’re halfway cute and have a good agent. For a second, a mere split-second, I almost thought you done good with this Walking Dead appearance. But you’re still indie iceberg lettuce, mere filler between zombie attacks and Channing Tatum’s abs.
In the future, if you’re going to put some music in a horror franchise, at least pay heed to your indie rock forefathers and get yourself into a goofy video.
P.S. Oh, and hey guys? For the record, I like sucking dick. I’m still sucking dick. Just not yours.
After taking a hiatus in February due to Zine Fest and utter exhaustion, we’re back with a vengeance for March.
March 24, we’re bringing a huge crew of awesome authors, poets, essays, and artists of the printed page, including graphic novelist/comic book genius Tom Neely, of The Blot, The Wolf, and of course, the famed fan-fiction erotica Henry & Glenn Forever.
We’re also having a poem/performance from Ian MacKinnon! If you haven’t heard him or heard of him (e.g. from Ian MacKinnon’s Gay Hist-Orgy), then you must not have eyes or ears.
And don’t forget Allison Anders, who will be reading from her tumblr blog about owning Greta Garbo’s record collection.
And we’ve got Flannery Lunsford from Allison and Kurt Voss’ film Strutter, and a return visit from Justin Maurer, author of Seventeen Television (and, oh, like about a thousand awesome bands including Maniac, Clorox Girls, and L.A. Drugz). Don’t miss this one!
This has been a tragedy, a situation where someone has done terrible, unforgivable things for “all the right reasons,” driven to a rage by a system so corrupt and rotten to the core that people like me who hate violence and hate even acting out in anger are finding ourselves begrudgingly on his side, in a weird way. I would never believe someone is a hero who would murder, kidnap, and terrorize the innocent, but I also believe that from the sections of Christopher Dorner’s manifesto I’ve read, this is a bright person who once had a firm sense of justice, whose mental illness was exacerbated by an intolerable situation. No one deserves to die here, not even him, and it breaks my heart that this is how things are ending–smoke bombs, explosions, firefighting, and a cabin up in flames, with Dorner inside of it.
Per Dorner’s manifesto, he’s a lover of music, and believes “Dave Brubeck’s ‘Take Five’ is the greatest piece of music ever, period.” Chris, this one’s for you.
Valentine’s Day is coming up, and love is all around us. Some of my friends, including a couple former lovers, have even gotten engaged in the last few weeks. Though I’ve been living happily for a couple years now as some kind of quasi-poly-loner-bachelor type, this season always makes me question what it is I’m looking for when it comes to romance. And I think I can boil it all down to a punk song I first heard when I was about 14 years old.
Of the hundreds of thousands of songs that have influenced what I like about music, probably more than half are about dating and relationships, anything from “Feel Like Makin’ Love” to “Be My Wife.” Many of those use “love” as a mere canvas, a quick subject matter to scream about or lay dance beats over or solo across; others of them, more direct, have spoken to me about love and lust with crystal clear realism, like Aphrodite whispering into my ear while rubbing my buttocks with a Mosrite fuzz pedal.
But those songs are about being in a dating situation, or falling out of one; few songs have inspired what qualities I look for in people I want to date. Especially in my youth, when I was on a limited budget and you couldn’t hear whole discographies for nothin’ on the internet, this song by the Rezillos was the tune that made me realize, hey, this is what I want, and I should go out and look for it, much like “He’s a Rebel” or “You’re So Square (Baby I Don’t Care)” might have spoken to some buckeyed youth in the golden age of teen pop:
I guess you could say this one really molded me, mwah ha hah!
Though the Rezillos were only about 15% – 22% female at any given time, and she didn’t sing lead on this one, this song is perhaps the most joyously egalitarian, matter-of-fact-ly feminist, and casually somewhat-sex-positive song about male-on-female attraction I think I’ve ever known. It’s all about getting turned on because your girlfriend makes art! She actually creates something meaningful out of her life instead of, I dunno, hanging out on the arm of a male artist, playing the groupie role that many female music fans probably felt was their only entry to rock in the pre-punk era. Okay, I know, it’s still a silly song about romance and lusting after a girl, but c’mon, it’s awesome, and so refreshing after thousands and thousands of songs about women that could be any woman, as if love’s context didn’t matter. This was the first song I may have ever heard, outside of maybe “Lovely Rita, Meter Maid” that celebrated a woman for her occupation!
God, you just have to love punk rock, warts and all. Note that the male character in the song is neither jealous nor tries to boast about his own similar creative endeavors–he’s very content to praise his gal’s talents for their own sake. Compared to more serious punk bands of their time, the Rezillos were considered high camp. But the teenaged me detected no irony in how the narrator places his baby’s sculpting skills far above her “pouting lips” or “curvy hips.” He even brags to the world on how “she killa dilla,” goddam it! What does that even mean? He’s so egalitarian that by the end of the song, he can barely talk.
I discovered this tune on one of Rhino Records’ amazing, truly influential D.I.Y. compilations: The Modern World – UK Punk II. Before this series came out, even just hearing pre-hardcore punk that wasn’t the Clash, Ramones, or Sex Pistols was exceedingly difficult in a burg like Tulsa, Oklahoma; I’d read about these bands for years in books at the library without knowing what they sounded like, and this was my first time to hear them all in one place. I vividly recall finding this tape for sale, used, in a counter display case at Mohawk Music–this was probably in 1993, just when my late-onset puberty was in full swing. I got pretty much the whole series and played them all the time, mostly on a Fisher-Price tape recorder that I kept in my Ram Charger, since it didn’t have a tape deck. Every band, every song in this series was mind-blowing. Though X-Ray Spex might have inspired my own self-direction more, and the Adverts’ “One Chord Wonders” inspired how I wanted to play music, “Good Sculptures” taught me real qualities to look for in someone else when trying to complement my life.
And it’s informed who I have dated ever since; my life is far richer because of it. Thank you, Rezillos, and Rhino Records, for helping make me this way. That’s not bragging, nor am I even saying I have overall good mate choice: I’ve dated people, short and long term, who weren’t right for me, who were too innocent for me, or too clever, who left their clothes all over the living room, who took lots of my money, who tried to hurt themselves, who saw the mean and stupid parts of me and just thought they’d be mean and stupid back rather than tell me (or leave). I’ve dated people who stayed with me for far too long because they had no idea how to quietly back away from my own rudeness and immaturity. And this is true: I’ve been socked in the head by nearly every girl I’ve seriously dated.
But hey, man, at least I got the art! I got inspiration, and I got to enjoy a birds-eye view of so many creative processes. I can think back with such joy, and completely undeserved pride, on the albums my lovers have recorded, or the books they wrote, stores they opened, photos they took, planet they saved, ribald performances they titillated with, audiences they made chuckle, essays they published, DJ nights they rocked, urban fruit trees they harvested, shows they organized, videos they edited, kink they celebrated, wigs they wore … even just karaoke songs they were bold enough to pull off! Even at my most miserable and least desirable in a dating capacity, I’ve kept my eyes focused on the creative ones. And it’s never let me down, at least not on the level of my… soul, for lack of a better word. And as for one night stands? Well, at least I think I’ve done pretty good about not fucking anyone who doesn’t have books.
So yes, yes, thank you Rezillos. And thank you, you talented ladies and gents from my past. Ayy-ai-addy, addy-oh! If you ever wondered what I ever saw in you, it’s all because you does good sculptures. Yeah.
Keep doing ‘em.
-D. M. Collins
P.S. You know who else seems to have been inspired by this song? Opus from Bloom County!